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New Pew Internet Report: Library Services in the Digital Age

Patrons embrace new technologies – and would welcome more. But many still want printed books to hold their central place at public libraries.

The internet has already had a major impact on how people find and access information, and now the rising popularity of e-books is helping transform Americans’ reading habits. In this changing landscape, public libraries are trying to adjust their services to these new realities while still serving the needs of patrons who rely on more traditional resources. In a new survey of Americans’ attitudes and expectations for public libraries, the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project finds that many library patrons are eager to see libraries’ digital services expand, yet also feel that print books remain important in the digital age.

“In the past generation, public libraries have reinvented themselves to become technology hubs in order to help their communities access information in all its new forms,” noted Kathryn Zickuhr, Research Analyst at the Pew Internet Project, and co-author of a new report on the survey findings. “While many patrons appreciate being able to access new digital resources at libraries, they also say they value having print books and other traditional resources at libraries and still want a personal connection with library staff. Many libraries are torn between expanding their digital offerings on the latest platforms and still providing quality resources for patrons who may lack experience with technology or the means to own the latest devices.”

 The report explores:
• How Americans use public libraries
• Public priorities for libraries
• What new services people say they would use in the future

“The level of public eagerness for new services seems to be matched by wariness of changes in traditional library activities that patrons have used for years,” said Lee Rainie, Director at the Pew Internet Project and co-author of the report on these findings. “These findings paint a picture of a public that wants its libraries to be all things to all patrons. There is no clear roadmap of public priorities for libraries, so different communities will likely come up with different mixes of services as they move into the future.”

Read or download the full report: http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2013/01/22/Library-services/